An American Crime


An American Crime

Critics Consensus

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Total Count: 13


Audience Score

User Ratings: 11,475
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Movie Info

A seemingly ordinary housewife and the mother of seven, imprisons a beautiful teenager, who has been left in her charge, in the basement of her Indiana home.


Catherine Keener
as Gertrude Baniszewski
Ellen Page
as Sylvia Likens
Ari Graynor
as Paula Baniszewski
Nick Searcy
as Lester Likens
Michael O'Keefe
as Rev. Bill
Romy Rosemont
as Betty Likens
Jeremy Sumpter
as Coy Hubbard
Evan Peters
as Ricky Hobbs
Bradley Whitford
as Prosecutor
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News & Interviews for An American Crime

Critic Reviews for An American Crime

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (5) | Rotten (8)

  • An American Crime is the most brutal evocation of wrongdoing to appear in quite a while; it is hardly a pleasure to watch. But it is also one of the best television movies to appear in years.

    Jun 27, 2019 | Full Review…
  • An American Crime, wonderfully mounted, wholly absorbing, is also full of blank uneasiness.

    Jan 4, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Tragic tale of child abuse fails to make any sense of the crime.

    Jan 19, 2007
  • Not even the considerable talents of lead thesps Catherine Keener and Ellen Page can alleviate the artistic nullity that is An American Crime.

    Jan 18, 2007

    Todd McCarthy

    Top Critic
  • By instead focusing more on the character of Gertrude Baniszewski, the film relegates Sylvia Likens to a cypher with no real identity - she's simply a vessel for abuse.

    Sep 2, 2010 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Um projeto que encara a desgraça alheia como mero trampolim para o entretenimento.

    Aug 22, 2008 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for An American Crime

  • Jul 04, 2013
    Ellen Page is great, and Catherine Keener does alright, but she just doesn't fit the role of someone so abusive. It's a relatively harsh and emotional story, but with that being said, not much can be made of it other than "abuse is bad", which is common sense. It's not a well-written movie. It's obvious that the writer figured the true events themselves would be good enough for viewers, but sometimes you need to bend the truth a little to accomodate proper film values, and An American Crime seems to ignore those values.
    Kevin M Super Reviewer
  • Jul 16, 2011
    I don't know if I would say this is a great movie, but it does show a horrific true story - you just really can't stop watching even if you want to...
    Sarah P Super Reviewer
  • Nov 26, 2010
    If I were to base seeing An American Crime on the Tomatometer, well I simply wouldn't have seen it. This film is much better than given credit for. It is a true story of imprisonment and torture of a young girl in the 1960s. The performances here are outstanding. Ellen Page gives a brutally good performance and Catherine Keener steals the show with her truthful performance. An American Crime is set in the 1960s and it's evident that it is from the look to the carelessness compared to today. Their take on the 1960s is a strong point in An American Crime. The story is well-structured. It takes place in a courtroom but the movie itself is a retelling of what had occurred through the witnesses. I never found myself bored, even in the beginning, and it only ratcheted up until the conclusion. When finally I thought that these filmmakers messed up some where, they take the audience by surprise and completely trick us. I found it brilliant. Another film, "The Girl Next Door", is also based on the same incident and was also released in 2007. While it is a good film in its own merit, "The Girl Next Door" is much more of a horror-type film where the idea was taken simply to make a disturbing film where as An American Crime feels like a much more professional and serious effort. An American Crime is a must see. It has all the qualities of a fantastic film and is a flawless one at that. Forget what the some critics may tell you, and check this one out. However you may feel about An American Crime in the end, you will undeniably have seen a unique, underappreciated gut-wrenching masterpiece.
    Marjeez y Super Reviewer
  • Nov 18, 2010
    I think the most interesting thing about this film is the title. I think about the juxtaposition of two disparate ideas: first, America is a country that prides itself on its celebration of rugged individualism, and many of the stories (true and apocryphal) about its foundation debate the relationship between the individual and the state (yes: Glenn Beck has no original ideas; everything he says has been said since the time of America's founding). Second, the "American" crime depicted in this film is the direct result of groupthink and mob mentality, essentially the surrender of individual morality and thought to that of a group. So by calling the abuse of Sylvia Likens a typically American event, is the film denying one of America's definitive stories? I would find this remarkably interesting, and combined with the remarkable performance by Catherine Keener, a consistent thesis along those lines would make an intelligent, engaging film. But there is a key scene toward the end - a narrative trick that's supposed to be clever and effective (it isn't) - that denies the thesis: a key character, who demonstrates pathetic gullibility and performs one of the most despicable acts of abuse, undergoes a dramatic reversal and thinks for himself. But this moment of self-determination is only part of a trick, and we later discover it didn't even happen. The film thus sacrifices consistency of message at the altar of thinking itself cool. Also, I was disappointed in Page's performance. She was remarkably convincing and heart-rending during the torture sequences, but her pre-tortured Sylvia is a bland, ever-smiling mask. As I said earlier, Keener is amazing. She finds humanity in Gertrude's moments of abuse that a lesser actor would've played in a sadistic impersonation of Hannibal Lecter. Overall, <i>An American Crime</i> is a disappointment because it fails to understand its own content.
    Jim H Super Reviewer

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